Facile synthesis of pH-sensitive germanium nanocrystals with high quantum yield for intracellular acidic compartment imaging

Feng Li, Jing Wang, Shuqing Sun, Hai Wang, Zhiyong Tang, Guangjun Nie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

A green-light emitting germanium nanocrystal-based biosensor to monitor lysosomal pH changes is developed. The Ge nanocrystals are synthesized in an aqueous solution with a significantly enhanced photoluminescence quantum yield of 26%. This synthesis involves a facile solution based route which avoided the use of toxic or environmentally unfriendly agents. Importantly, the photoluminescence intensity of the synthesized Ge nanocrystals is particularly sensitive to changes in pH between 5 and 6. When incubated with cultured cells, the nanocrystals are internalized and subsequently translocated via the lysosomal pathway, and the Ge nanocrystals' fluorescence are greatly enhanced, even when the lysosomal pH is only slightly increased. These results reveal that the Ge nanocrystals possess high pH sensitivity compared to a commercially available dye, LysoSensor Green DND-189. The fluorescent properties of the Ge nanocrystals are demonstrated to be dependent on both the crystal form and their surface chemistry. The superior fluorescence properties and bioapplicability of the Ge nanocrystals makes them a promising intracellular bioimaging probe for monitoring various pH-sensitive processes in cells. A green germanium-based fluorescence biosensor to monitor lysosomal pH changes is developed using a one-step green chemistry strategy in an aqueous solution. The superior pH sensitive fluorescence properties and bioapplicability of Ge nanocrystals render them a promising intracellular bioimaging probe for monitoring various pH sensitive processes in cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1954-1961
Number of pages8
JournalSmall
Volume11
Issue number16
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 24 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)

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